The owner of ACO Furniture Warehouse in Santa Clara, CA, had secured all of the approvals needed to tear down the building and put up a six-story office tower. The plan seemed to make sense, as the location is just off busy U.S. Highway 101 and is minutes away from offices for several major tech companies in Silicon Valley.

The only problem was that the owner couldn’t find enough prospective tenants for the project.

The lack of demand for new office space in that area led the San Francisco-based owner of property, investment firm SPI Holdings, to ask the city to rezone the site as “light industrial.” That paved the way for the owner to sell the site to Amerco Real Estate, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Amerco plans to convert the 193,536-square-foot furniture store into a U-Haul self-storage and truck rental location. Amerco, the parent company of U-Haul, paid $16.5 million for the property, which is at 2121 Laurelwood Road.

Kevin Riley, planning director for the City of Santa Clara, told the business journal that U-Haul is planning improvements to the site.

“They’ll pretty up the property, and it’ll get enhanced compared to what it was over the last few years,” Riley said.

From big box to self-storage

U-Haul also recently converted a former Wal-Mart store at 4030 West 25th St. in Pine Bluff, AR. U-Haul bought the 112,835-square-foot building at an auction in March for $1.05 million, according to local property records.

The new U-Haul location features self-storage, truck rentals and U-Box pods.

“By converting this former Wal-Mart store into a U-Haul facility, we are showing the residents of Pine Bluff that we are committed to the growth and development of their community,” Andrew Hicks, a U-Haul representative in Arkansas, said in a news release.

These two deals are some of the most recent examples of Amerco’s stepped-up emphasis on self-storage. The company has bought or developed about 40 facilities in the past year, with self-storage revenue growing 19 percent.

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Alexander Harris